Monday, April 24, 2017

Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens’ Group Updates  March/ April 2017 

Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens’ Group Updates   March/ April 2017 

*  For articles and updates or to just vent, visit us on facebook;
*  To view permanent documents, past updates, reports, general information and meeting  information
*  To contact your state legislator:
  For the email address, click on the envelope under the photo
*  For information on PA state gas legislation and local control:
Newsletter information-Please Contact Jan Milburn

SEE  the Citizens to Preserve Ligonier Valley’s first billboard on Rt 30 heading west from Ligonier to Latrobe !


***Comments on Methane Regs Proposed by Gov. Wolf Due June 5 Please write a supportive paragraph or two. We have little regulation of gas emissions in PA. – The PA DEP has opened a 45-day public comment period to accept input for reducing methane at well sites and compressor stations associated with gas drilling and transport.
Address:  Policy Office, Department of Environmental Protection, 
Rachel Carson Office Building, P.O. Box 2063, Harrisburg, PA 17105
You can Ask that Best Available Technology be used to reduce methane emissions at gas operations. 
And--Leak detection should be done monthly on an on-going basis to immediately detect problems that could result in accidents.  (Under the current proposal, companies are required to do leak detection and repair surveys only quarterly.) 

***Contact Your State Senator --Oppose SB 175-- Weakens DEP and Methane Regs
"Republican senators continue their pursuit to limit DEP in fulfilling its mission and defending our kids’ right to a healthy and abundant life.... The bill states:
“… the board may not promulgate ambient air quality standards, emission or performance standards, control measures or other requirements, and the department may not impose permit or plan approval conditions, for methane that are more stringent than those promulgated by the EPA for new sources.”
In effect, the bill would stop new standards in Pennsylvania to reduce methane leaks from natural gas drilling and transportation. It is a partisan political move.”

***County Commissioner KOPAS and WCCC  On The Wrong Side Of Fracking Issue Westmoreland County Commissioner Ted Kopas touted the wonders of the gas industry at the Shale Summit at WCCC . While Maryland and New York ban fracking due to health and environmental concerns, our county commissioner supports priming our students to work in the fracking industry.
"I see folks from industry, from labor, concerned citizens, municipal government, education, workforce development. All the partners, all the right people are sitting right here in this room and that’s a wonderful sight to see. .... There are jobs galore out there." 
Yes Ted, and they are all representing the gas industry. 
 This was from the Shale Summit held at WCCC. All the speakers and sponsors were gas industry-industry related. There was no one listed to speak on the health and
environmental harm of fracking. If you disagree with this emphasis, email Ted Kopas and the community college about the harm done to our students and our county by advocating  fracking. jan
Westmoreland Co. Commissioner Ted Kopas
Dr. Tuesday Stanley President WCCC

***WMCG usually meets the second Tuesday of every month. This month we will meet Apirl 25 at 7:30. Email jan for directions.

A Chance to Take Part in the Second People’s Climate March
Washington, D.C., April 29
As an act of resistance, a diverse coalition has organized a Second People’s Climate March on April 29, this time in Washington D.C. We have arranged for three buses to take folk from SW Pennsylvania to the Washington march. The current list of sponsors includes 350 Pittsburgh, Clean Water Action, GASP, Marcellus Protest, Moms Clean Air Force, OnePittsburgh, SEIU HCPA, and the Sierra Club.

***Sister Climate March in Pittsburgh, April 29 10:00 Oakland  4426-4444
 Bigelow Blvd Pittsburgh Contact for more information

Permits/ Decisions
***More wells fracked at Beaver Run Reservoir
"As of 2013, 41 deep wells have been drilled on 6 pads. The drillers are Consol Energy's CNX Gas.
Some of the chemicals used by Consol for fracking have been listed online by the MAWC. There is no information on the location, date, or total quantities of chemicals used, but Material Safety Data Sheets discuss the hazards and properties of these chemicals and others:
hydrochloric acid;
DAP-901-1, which contains methanol and phosphoric acid, and other toxic chemicals;
DWP-938-1, which contains methyl alcohol and other toxic chemicals;
DWP-944-3, which contains polyethylene glycol and other toxic chemicals; and crystalline silica"
CNX GAS CO LLC reports drilling started on 2017-03-05 00:00:00 at site AIKENS 5 AIKENS5MHSUT in Washington Twp township, Westmoreland county
CNX GAS CO LLC reports drilling started on 2017-03-05 00:00:00 at site AIKENS 5 AIKENS5JHSUT in Washington Twp township, Westmoreland county

***PA Gas Drilling Permit Issued in Hempfield Township
Gas permit issued on 2017-03-27 to APEX ENERGY (PA) LLC for site EISAMAN SOUTH PAD-43 2H in Hempfield Twp, Westmoreland County

***Apex To Build 7 Well Pads in Level Green, Penn Twp. 
"Apex Energy has cleared nearly all local hurdles in its plan to build seven
unconventional gas well pads in Penn Township. It now needs only permits from the state before drilling can begin.
The township Zoning Hearing Board approved special zoning exceptions for the Backus, Drakulic and Deutsch pads in Level Green, following last month's approval of the Numis well pad near Pleasant Valley and Beulah roads.
This rapid series of approvals follows the township settling with Apex to avoid a $300 million lawsuit. The zoning hearing board last year rejected three well pads, prompting a series of lawsuits from Apex.
The township settled in December, reversing the rejections of the Beattie, Draftina and White well pads. Apex agreed to several stipulations."

***Upper Burrell "Cari Armstrong, a new homeowner in Upper Burrell, pleaded with the supervisors to consider the long-term impact of fracking over the potential short-term cash windfall.
“There is already evidence that home values suffer when fracking comes into a rural community.”  Armstrong cited a study from Duke University that showed home values decreasing from 1995-2012 across 36 Pennsylvania counties where fracking occurs.
According to the study, the value of homes within 1.5 kilometers of a drilling operation decreased by an average of about $30,000. The same study showed that homes within 1 kilometer lose an average of about 14% of their value.
Ron Slabe accused the board of making decisions about the township without all of the information available and with more concern for money than residents.
“You really don't know how many wells there will be, do you?” he asked.
“I don't,” board Chairman Ross Walker III replied. “You don't either.”
Slabe accused Walker of changing his stance on the issue.”

Court Cases
**Gorsline Case----Jugovic Says--Not in a Residential Back Yard--
"You're making it the universal 'Not in My Back Yard' argument," Justice Max Baer told George Jugovic of Citizens for Pennsylvania's Future, who represented the landowners.
"At least when it's a residential backyard," Jugovic replied.
Justice Christine L. Donohue asked Jugovic to specifically address the public service determination, noting that the word appeared in some of the language that the zoning board considered.
Jugovic responded that the central purpose for the project is private enterprise, not serving members of the public.
"What if you want to put in a nuclear power plant, would that be a public service?" Justice David Wecht asked.
Susan Smith said that use may be similar to a public, or essential service, so the zoning board could potentially grant that use.
Toward the end of the arguments, Donohue asked several questions about Smith's assertion that there was no evidence in the record regarding the constitutional issues the landowners raised before the high court.
Smith had told the justices that, after the board permits a conditional-use, objectors can only enter objective facts into evidence. Smith acknowledged that there was testimony on that issue, but said there was no actual evidence from the objectors.
"Merely raising a concern is not evidence," Smith said.
Donohue did not appear convinced.
"I truly do not understand that conclusion," Donohue said. "It's contrary to any notion of evidence I've understood."

Gorsline Background "Four residents, represented by the environmental organization PennFuture, challenged Fairfield Township’s decision to allow Marcellus Shale wells as a conditional use in an area zoned for residential and agricultural uses. They argue that the township disregarded its own zoning commitments by introducing industrial drilling into a residential district designed to preserve its quiet character.
A Lycoming County court judge sided with the residents, but the Commonwealth Court reversed that decision. The appeals court reasoned that a shale gas well is similar to types of facilities that provide a broad public service — such as a power substation or a water treatment plant — that can generally be located in any zone. Some municipal parties in the Robinson Township case wrote that their case restored to municipalities the power to make local decisions about where to allow drilling, but did not give local governments the discretion to allow it everywhere. They urged the court to declare a bright-line rule that oil and gas development is an industrial land use incompatible with non-industrial zoning districts."

***Rice Energy Sues West Pike Run Twp. Over Compressor Station Approval With gas wells come compressor stations, and here's how the industry works it. They get approval for a small compressor station then demand approval of an expansion. Some compressor stations in SW PA are now producing large amounts of pollution due to this unlimited expansion. jan
"A subsidiary of Rice Energy has sued West Pike Run Township in Washington County Court, seeking approval to expand a compressor station on a farm in the municipality.
The commission voted Oct. 10 to not recommend the land-development application, the lawsuit alleges.
Residents attended supervisors meetings last year to complain about noise from Blue Moon and another station in West Pike.

Ordinance Activity
***Murrysville The Need for Risk Assessment- Amy Mayberry: "The need for a formal risk assessment - quantitative data: Murrysville resident Amy Mayberry, who
has a masters degree in environmental management from Duke University where she specialized in environmental toxicology, chemistry, and risk assessment, spoke before Council last night (March 1, 2017) on the need for a formal risk assessment to the community of fracking at various setbacks. This is a step that Council should take before enacting the ordinance because it provides justification for decisions about setback distances.
She says, "First, it would include an 'effects assessment' or a 'dose response assessment'. Essentially, that tells you how much of a hazardous chemical someone needs to have in their body before it can actually cause harm."
"Second, it would include an 'exposure assessment', and this is the part I really feel might have been missing up till now. The exposure assessment tells you exactly what level of contaminants you can expect in each part of Murrysville, depending on where that setback is, depending on how many feet you set it at... It will tell you how many people are likely to be exposed to what levels."
"The third and final section... puts the information from those first two sections together. It tells you exactly how likely it is that residents' health will actually be harmed at various distances from the wells."

Murrysville Meeting -John Smith, lead attorney in the Act 13 case that struck down portions of the then-Pennsylvania law regarding gas drilling, likened Murrysville's pending ordinance to a case of spot zoning.
“People made decisions based on the stated purpose of your zoning district,” Smith said. “I'd ask you to review your zoning definition of the rural-residential district; it does not include industrial uses. Adding an overlay district does not change the underlying (residential) character of the district.”
 Jack Milburn: “The argument that a lot of gas-industry people make is, ‘Well, it's not really industrial.' Well, it is,” Milburn (Jack) said. “The U.S. Department of Labor and OSHA identify gas operations as industrial, as did the (state) supreme court by the way. They're assigned an SIC code, a standard industrial classification. It's an industrial activity, and therefore it belongs in an industrial zone.”

***Wilmington—Supervisors declined a major request of fracking opponents — to prohibit gas drilling in agricultural areas.

***Penn Trafford Appeals-   “Protect PT has asked a Westmoreland County judge to halt development of four hydraulic fracturing well pads in Penn Township. The appeals are against the Penn Township Zoning Hearing Board, but the real target is Apex Energy, said Gillian Graber, executive director of Protect PT, a group of residents from Penn Township and other communities near the proposed drilling sites.
The appeals are based on three main arguments:
• Plans for the well pads would require storing more toxic wastewater than is allowed under Penn Township ordinance.
• Plans do not call for pollution monitoring stringent enough to protect residents' rights to “clean air and pure water,” as defined by the state constitution and township ordinance.
• The wells would have an “adverse, abnormal or detrimental impact on the public interest” if built, the appeals state."

***Upper Burrell “It appears that a decision regarding a controversial gas well pad in Upper Burrell won't be coming soon. 
One hurdle involves approvals that Huntley and Huntley Energy needs before it could install and operate a pad containing three gas wells on the Slahtovsky family farm off of Geyer Road. Another involves a zoning challenge brought by a neighbor.
And then there's public sentiment voiced at Wednesday night's supervisors meeting that the township should wait until a series of court rulings regarding natural gas well drilling elsewhere in the state are decided. 
The ordinance that allows gas wells in agricultural-residential zones is being challenged by a resident through the township's zoning hearing board.”

Other Fracking News

***Maryland Frack Ban Is Final
Maryland Officially Becomes the third state to ban fracking joining New York and Vermont!
The governor of Maryland signed the statewide fracking ban into law!

***Health Care Professionals To Gas Industry-Stop the Legal Challenges
"A group representing thousands of Pennsylvania doctors, nurses and other health care professionals has sent a letter to the Marcellus Shale Coalition, requesting that it stop legal challenges and lobbying against regulations aimed at controlling drilling air emissions and safeguarding public health.
The letter to the shale gas industry states that drilling operations can have deleterious impacts on public health, especially children, seniors and people with existing lung problems, and urges the industry to abide by emissions controls proposed for methane, volatile organic compounds and other pollutants.
“Reducing this pollution will have a positive impact on Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable communities,” the letter says. “As health care and public health professionals, we are asking that you stop attacking these reasonable safeguards for the Pennsylvanians we are committed to protecting.”
The letter is signed by about 40 individual doctors, nurses and health care workers, and organizations representing more than 40,000 doctors, nurses, researchers, and health professionals, including the Philadelphia and Harrisburg/Hershey chapters of Physicians for Social Responsibility; the Southwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project, a nonprofit that addresses health concerns in the state’s gas patches; and SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania, the state’s largest health care workers union.”

***Hempfield Gas Leak-Truck Backs Into Gas Well 
Hempfield Township — Officials shut down Route 136 in Westmoreland County after a tractor trailer accident caused a large gas leak. According to emergency dispatchers, the tractor-trailer reportedly backed into a large gas well, tearing off the head of the well.  Firefighters and Hazmat teams were called to the scene.  So far, there have been no evacuations in the area. However, officials will be monitoring the air to determine if that is necessary.

***Penn Trafford Schools Reject Free Air Monitoring-- Protect PT, which opposes fracking, offered free monitoring for particulate matter and chemical pollution via the Southwest PA Environmental Health Project and the Clean Air Council.
 Protect PT President Gillian Graber said she did her best to convince district officials that independent monitoring would be a benefit.

***Carroll Twp (Note the date-- this all started in 2007.  Yet the industry says they can do what they want because it’s temporary. Jan) 
“Another issue is that previously in drilling, five compressors were used. Now, 15 or 17 compressors are being used,” he said.
Deafening noise, excessive dust, road congestion and sleepless nights were some of the concerns raised to Carroll Township supervisors about an EQT gas drilling operation.
Ernie Koontz, who lives in the Ripepi housing plan, asked the board what action can be taken to address the noise and excess dust from the gas drilling. Koontz said the back of his house is covered in dust, including his windows, doors and garage door. The dust has also ruined his home air-conditioning compressor more than once.
“I am constantly cleaning up this muck from my garage. My son and my wife can’t sleep at night,” said Koontz. He added that since the drilling began in 2007 at the site, he has been dealing with these problems. During the first round of drilling, an
abatement wall was built to offset the noise."

***EPA Says PA Has Not Enforced Safe Drinking Water Act
"EPA blamed inadequate staffing at the DEP. Gov. Wolf wants to borrow $15 million in each of the next three years to help fund local water quality projects."

***PA Gas Facilities Get Away With Polluting By Adding On Little By Little-
There are less stringent regs for smaller operations
"Earthworks new report, "Permitted to Pollute" explains how oil/gas facilities are getting piecemeal permitting for huge polluting facilities like the Bluestone natural gas processing plant in Butler County which is featured in the report. The permitting for parts of facilities at different times gives industry the ability to be classified as a lower polluting facility under state minor source general permits instead of under a much more stringent and protective EPA Title V major source permits which they should be classified. 
The Bluestone facility has grown from 31 to nearly 380 acres, about 288 football fields. Each phase was built separately and was permitted under the less stringent general permits. Our state regulatory agency does not take into account any facilities that are already existing in the area or the amount of pollution the other facilities emit. This is good information to take to township supervisors if it makes sense to do so."

***Pruitt EPA Scraps Methane Reporting From Oil/Gas Operations
"The EPA said it is withdrawing an Obama-era request that oil and gas companies provide information on methane emissions at oil and gas operations. 
"This appalling decision shows how quickly Pruitt is turning the EPA into an oil industry vending machine," said Vera Pardee of the Center for Biological Diversity, an environmental group."

***Penn State Discusses Property Value
In a review of peer- reviewed research on property value and fracking:
**Estimates range between 2 and 21% reduction in the value of homes near well pads
**During the early development of fracking decisions about land use were based only on positive economic impacts available at the time. There are also negative impacts.
**Properties with private water wells that are located within 1.5 k of a fracked well experience significant negative property value impacts. 
**Properties close to major roadways can experience continuing negative impacts past the drilling state. 
(From Latrobe Bulletin, March 11, 2017)

***Judge Carlson Overturns Compensation to Families With Frack Contaminated  Water
"A federal judge struck down a jury’s award of more than $4 million to two Pennsylvania families who claimed their well water was contaminated by gas drilling, saying the award bore little or no relationship to the evidence presented at the 2016 trial.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Martin Carlson of the Middle District of Pennsylvania ordered a new trial of the case brought by the families in Dimock, led by Scott Ely, who said at the original trial that their water had been contaminated since 2008."

***End Of Mandatory Notification of Spills Affecting Drinking Water Ends  Despite Court Ruling
"Mandatory notification of spills affecting public water supplies will end next week, because the Legislature refused to take action. The Supreme Court ruled last fall that regs had to be rewritten to include notifying private water well owners as well as public water suppliers. To avoid providing this notification, legislators did nothing, so ALL mandatory notification ends. The Legislature has made no attempt at all to meet the court's deadline."
***PA Approves More Waste Injection Wells 
"Pennsylvania has approved two new underground injection wells to take in wastewater from the gas industry. Pennsylvania already has six active injection wells.
The two new injection wells will be operated by Seneca Resources in Elk County, and Pennsylvania General Energy Company in Indiana County. Both have faced significant pushback from the local municipalities.  "

***PA DEP Sues The Townships That Try To Block The Injection Wells
While NY and MD pass bans, the PA DEP is suing townships that are trying to block injection wells. 
"The PA DEP is suing two rural townships that attempted to block underground disposal wells for oil and gas wastewater.

***WPX Fined $1.2 Million for polluting the drinking water of 5 households south of Ligonier, in Donegal Twp, in 2012 
“A leak from a frack waste pit polluted the water below the Kalp well site. WPX is required to investigate the extent of the impacts and remediate the site --soil, groundwater, and any surface water impacted by the leak.”(Latrobe Bulletin)
"Brown said she noticed she was getting dizzy spells about the time they found out their water was contaminated. But I didn't know it was a problem with our water,” she said.
Families Still Without Water South of Ligonier After Frack Pit Leak
"More than four years after a WPX Energy Appalachia wastewater impoundment leaked and contaminated the drinking water of five Westmoreland County families, the shale gas company has agreed to pay the state a $1.2 million penalty.
But the families still don’t have sufficient, permanent water supplies, said Melissa Marshall, community advocate for the Mountain Watershed Association.
The families, who live near Stahlstown, must supplement the filtered water with bottled water. The company also installed water softeners at the homes, but those do not filter out or otherwise treat wastewater chemicals.
“The filtration systems are completely insufficient in providing for the water needs of the families, and that’s been true for years,” Ms. Marshall said. “As a result, the residents are depressed and disillusioned, and still cooking and cleaning and living on bottled water. This settlement doesn’t help the residents, who are still in dire need.”

***CA Cuts Methane Leaks by 45%--Come On PA Get With the Program 
"The California Air Resources Board voted unanimously to enact regulations that will curb the amount of methane the oil and gas industry can leak and vent during production and storage.
The new rule — years in the making — requires oil and gas companies to monitor infrastructure and repair leaks. It is a massive step forward for California’s air quality programs, and it is the strictest in the nation.
The Air Resources Board expects the new rule will reduce methane leaks by 45 percent over the next nine years.

***Colorado Wins Fracking Suit
 Gas Development Will be Subject to Protection of Health--Colorado 
"We therefore conclude that the commission erred in interpreting [the Oil and Gas Conservation Act] as requiring a balance between development and public health, safety and welfare."
"The clear language of the act ... mandates that the development of oil and gas in Colorado be regulated subject to the protection of public health, safety and welfare, including protection of the environment and wildlife resources."

***Tens of Thousands of Teachers Are Getting Climate-Denying Propaganda in  Their Mailboxes
The Heartland Institute, a libertarian, climate-denying think tank, is mailing its book Why Scientists Disagree About Global Warming and an accompanying DVD to every science teacher at American public schools. About 25,000 teachers out of a targeted 200,000 have already gotten the package."

***Students Oppose Pipelines 
Students from 19 Pennsylvania colleges and universities delivered a statement to Governor Tom Wolf’s Capitol office demanding no new natural gas pipelines and immediate investment in green jobs.
Ms. Funk, a Westmoreland County resident and environmental engineering student at Wellesley College and Olin College of Engineering said, “I grew up playing in a waste coal dump behind my house and in a community impacted by what the coal industry left behind. My science education has made me deeply concerned that Marcellus Shale drilling and pipelines to support it are going to lead us down the same dark path. We are here to tell Tom Wolf that our young minds can answer the question of what’s next for clean energy and green jobs to bring economic opportunity to our communities. We don’t want our livelihoods to continue to be disrupted by unsafe water and an unstable climate.”

***Workers Routinely Exposed To Benzene
"Some workers at fracking oil/gas sites are routinely exposed to high levels of benzene, a colorless gas that can cause cancer, according to a study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Over the course of a 12-hour shift, workers open the hatches and stand above them one to four times per hour, breathing in the fumes for two to five minutes each time. This could add up to dangerous levels of exposure to various volatile organic compounds from the chemicals used in fracking, or from the hydrocarbons themselves.
The oil and gas industry has a fatality rate “of 27.5 per 100,000 workers (2003-2009) – more than seven times higher than the rate for all U.S. workers,” according to NIOSH. Most fatalities are the result of accidents."

***SW PA Disproportionately Affected By Trump Budget Cuts “Because SW PA still has high levels of pollution, we will be disproportionately affected by Trump's budget cuts. The result will be more asthma, lung disease, and cardiovascular disease
*PA has been awarded over $12 million in 8 years to cut toxic diesel fumes. Trumps budget would cut funding 100%.
*The Air Pollution Control Program in Allegheny County has received federal money for air monitoring. That would be cut 30%.
*The Targeted Air Shed Grant is at risk of being eliminated. It reduces pollution in areas that have the highest levels of ozone and PM2.5 which is this area of PA. It would be eliminated
*Western PA has radon levels far above the national average. Funding for radon programs would be eliminated.
*Programs for lead, brownfield remediation, compliance monitoring and civil enforcement--all cut.” 
Summarized from GASP.

***Trump's Pollution Plan
"Increased air pollution means a rise in asthma attacks, a rise in heart disease and stroke associated with particulate pollution, a rise in the premature births and low birth-weights associated with fracking pollution, a rise in the neurological damage mercury causes in the developing brains of babies.
All members of Moms Clean Air Force should be aware of exactly how huge the Trump/Pruitt Polluter Plan is. Here’s a partial list:
-Encourage more coal-fired power plants to spew mercury, a neurotoxin that harms babies’ brains, into the air.
-Get rid of protections against fracking pollution.
-Undo the smog protections that help prevent asthma attacks.
-Kill the fuel economy standards for cars that help us save money at the pump.
--Do nothing about dangerous climate change—except deny it.
Ignore the Supreme Court ruling that EPA must regulate greenhouse gases.
--Let power plants unleash carbon pollution.
-Attack climate scientists.
-Attack science research and data collection.
-Kill plans for flood programs”

***Trump Says No Carbon Tax Despite Republican Elders Supporting It To Avoid  Climate Change
"Donald Trump's administration is not considering a carbon tax, a White House official said, Trump administration officials met with a group of Republican elder statesman who called for a $40 per ton tax on carbon emissions to fend off global climate change.
In response to that meeting, the White House official said: "The Trump Administration is not considering a carbon tax."

***Trump Executive Order to Eliminate Clean Water rule
“Trump's executive order has been sharply criticized by environmental groups. Earthjustice accused the president of "demonstrating that he puts the interests of corporate polluters above the public's health."
When the Clean Water Act passed in 1972, it defined waters that would need protection from pollution as "navigable." For most of us, that means big enough to float a boat. Over the years, though, it became clear that smaller streams and wetlands needed protection as well, especially those that feed into rivers and lakes that provide drinking water. But Congress and successive administrations tried, and failed, to clarify exactly which waters were subject to the act. The Army Corps of Engineers interpreted the act differently in different regions of the U.S., and courts only added to the confusion.
The Obama administration tried once and for all to settle the question with the Waters of the United States rule in 2015. At the time, it was hailed by the Obama administration as protecting the water supply for about 117 million Americans."

***Pruitt EPA Plans To Allow Unlimited Dumping Of Fracking Wastewater In The  Gulf of Mexico 
“Attorneys for the Center for Biological Diversity sent a letter warning the EPA that its draft plan, which would continue to allow oil and gas companies to dump unlimited amounts of fracking chemicals and wastewater directly into the Gulf of Mexico, was in violation of federal law.”

Research/ Reports
***PA Frackers Pay Few Fines
4,351 PA Frack Violations in 8 years-- that’s 1.4 per day
“A new report released in March by PennEnvironment shows that for the past eight years, fracking companies in PA have together committed 4,351 environmental and public-health violations.
That amounts to 1.4 violations per day in the state. This number is pretty significant as is, but PennEnvironment also pointed out that only 17 % of those violations were issued a fine. Additionally, that average fine was only $5,263.

**500 Feet from Well Fire Second Degree Burns in 30 Minutes
" Marsha Haley, M.D., is a radiation oncologist at two of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center hospitals. She’s also a concerned mother of a 10-year old.
Dr. Haley became more and more concerned about the proximity of wells to school children. It’s not easy to evacuate a school and Dr. Haley particularly was worried about blast zones should an explosion at a well pad occur.
500 feet from a well fire would inflict second-degree burns within 30 minutes. Ohio firefighters were exposed to a therapy-grade radioactive isotope that was found onsite in a fracking truck"

***Study: Natural Gas Power Plants Emit up to 120 Times More Methane Than Previously Estimated
Researchers at Purdue University and the Environmental Defense Fund have concluded that natural gas power plants release 21–120 times more methane than stated in earlier estimates. 
The study also found that for oil refineries, emission rates were 11–90 times more than initial estimates. The scientists measured air emissions at three natural gas-fired power plants and three refineries in Utah, Indiana, and Illinois using Purdue's flying chemistry lab, the Airborne Laboratory for Atmospheric Research (ALAR). They compared their results to data from the EPA Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program.
 “Power plants currently use more than one third of natural gas consumed in the U.S. and the volume used is expected to increase as market forces drive the replacement of coal with cheaper natural gas,” the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) said in a press release. “But if natural gas is going to deliver on its promise, methane emissions due to leaks, venting, and flaring need to be kept to a minimum.” Environmental Science and Technology

Methane Leaks Travel Great Distances and Affect Groundwater  "A new University of Guelph study proves what many western Canadian landowners have long documented — that methane gas leaking from energy industry wells can
travel great distances in groundwater and pose safety risks, contaminate water and contribute to climate change.
The study, published in Nature Geoscience , also concluded that current monitoring for gas leakage, usually at ground level and adjacent to wells, is inadequate to detect contamination.
“Current surface and subsurface monitoring efforts of shale gas development are thus insufficient to meaningfully detect or assess methane impacts to atmosphere and groundwater,” the study found. Impacts on groundwater are not being systematically monitored."

*** Fracking Causes 6,648 Spills in Four States, Duke University
"For the study, the researchers examined state-level spill data to characterize spills associated with unconventional oil and gas development at 31,481 fracked wells in the four states between 2005 and 2014. On average, that's equivalent to 55 spills per 1,000 wells in any given year, lead author Lauren Patterson, Duke University's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions.
North Dakota reported the highest spill rate, with 4,453 incidents. Pennsylvania reported 1,293, Colorado reported 476 and New Mexico reported 426. We also found that across all states, over 75 percent of spills at these wells occurred within the first three years of a well’s life 
Fifty percent of spills, including those spills whose cause was unknown, occurred at tanks or pits, and flowlines. In tanks and pits, the cause of those spills can vary widely, from equipment failure that manifests in a tank overflow due to corrosion, to human error, to lightning strikes. Many of the flowline leaks were due to corrosion or being punctured by equipment.
The researchers created an interactive map of spill sites in the four states.”

***PA Gas Facilities Get Away With Polluting By Building Little By Little
 There are Less Stringent regs for smaller operations
"Earthworks new report, "Permitted to Pollute" explains how oil/gas facilities are getting piecemeal permitting for huge polluting facilities like the Bluestone natural gas processing plant in Butler County featured in the report. The permitting for parts of facilities at different times gives industry the ability to be classified as a lower polluting facility under state minor source general permits instead of under a much more stringent and protective EPA Title V major source permits which they should be classified. 
The Bluestone facility has grown from 31 to nearly 380 acres, about 288 football fields. Each phase was built separately and was permitted under the less stringent general permits. Our state regulatory agency does not take into account any facilities that are already existing in the area or the amount of pollution the other facilities emit. This is good information to take to township supervisors if it makes sense to do so."
Link to report - .WLYbivnyuUk

Letters To Editor: 
Dear Editor:
Recent studies show the continued negative impacts of unconventional gas drilling on the health, safety, and property values for residents living nearby. The fracking industry’s history is one of contaminated air and water, exploding wells and pipelines, plummeting home values, and even earth quakes.
Such activities take place even after the landmark Robinson decision of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. In that decision, the Court warned that this “heavy industrial” process would “produce a detrimental effect on the environment, the people, their children, and future generations.” Yet the warning goes unheeded.
As Robinson stated, those living in rural and residential areas had certain “expectations” when building their homes and raising their families. Those expectations were not to live anywhere near a polluting industrial activity which the Court has so identified unconventional gas drilling. As the court noted, such activity is not compatible with existing land use, noting “the pig belongs in the barnyard, not in the parlor,” a violation of the due process rights under Article 1, Section 1 of the PA Constitution.
The Court will soon address again the fracking issue in what is known as the Gorsline case. The concerned public demands that the Court finally put the proper restraints on the fracking industry and guarantee us the “expectations” of living with clean air, pure water, and the aesthetic values of the areas we long ago decided to put roots. That “expectation” was never one of living in an environment of toxic waste."
Ron Slabe, Upper Burrell

***Trading Health for Boom Bust Jobs in Shortsighted
“We should be making investments in transitioning workers to jobs that will last many generations, jobs that will not negatively impact the health of the region and expose workers to fires and explosions. We need jobs that will not give our kids asthma and cancer and ruin the air, water and land that we all rely on to survive."
"Why would we ever want to put all our eggs in one basket [natural gas/petrochemicals] again? Creating an economy that relies on the health of a single industry that is historically boom or bust is, in my opinion, egregious and shortsighted. Have we not learned our lesson? The people of southwestern Pennsylvania deserve better from our business leaders and elected officials."
Leah Andrascik

Frack Links

***Link to Shalefield Stories-Personal stories of those affected by fracking

***To sign up for Skytruth notifications of activity and violations for your area:

*** List of the Harmed--There are now over 1400 residents of Pennsylvania who have placed their names on the list of the harmed when they became sick after fracking began in their area.
*** To See Water Test Results of the Beaver Run Reservoir
IUP students test for TDS, pH, metals- arsenic, chromium, and strontium.
We have not seen results for other frack chemicals including the organics BTEX group, or cesium for example. Here is a link to the IUP site:

***Dr Sahu on air modeling vs. air monitoring
 ***Tracy Carluccio radio interview

Additional Resources on fracking!additional-resources/c21bh 

Newsletter information-Please Contact Jan Milburn